EDITATIONS ON ART Sr Wendy Beckett
e $ IMON Lewty is best known as a map-maker, fabulous maps to places of spirit. Yet he convinces us that they are real places, if only we had the courage to venture out into the nonmaterial world.
Maps, which are in themselves both text and picture, have a deep fascination for him. Inscription Is part of his artistic practice, not in the sense of writing intelligibly but more In the sense of the graffiti artists.
His imagination is held by the images of long-dead and forgotten people have scribbled upon stone, now revealed to us, their posterity, in all their mysteriousness.
There is a sense that what intrigues Lewty Is the illegibility of what is written, the essential impossibility of truly communicating with one another.
We are all locked up in our own solitude, he seems to brood, and the most we can do is "point". "Pointing man" is dearly suffering. Is he running past the stone walls or do they hem him in? Everything about this pointing figure seems tense with motion, with the effort of running, yet he has only one shoe and is ill-equipped, in his skin-tight costume, for the race.
But his costume too has graffiti over it, as though this really were skin and he was tattooed with other men's Inscriptions.
Even more, some of the writing goes over him onto the vellum-like page, as if he were actually imprisoned on it.
No wonder this poor man screams in soundless distress and has been abruptly truncated at the top of his head, his reasoning power. He lives in a world he cannot understand or escape from lonely, frightened, tense.
At what is he pointing? He seems not to know; his eyes look both ways, and his head stares directly out at the viewer.
In one way this presents a terrifying image of what it must be like to be genuinely alone. This, of course, is something the Christian believer can never be: "I am not alone, the Father is with me."
In a very profound way, it is only when we accept to be "alone" — vulnerable, unsupported by public opinion, living by your own principles and accepting their consequences, that we can realise the non-aloneness of the Christian.
While we are muffling the
truth with noise and conformities, Jesus cannot take us into the companionship that he gives in prayer to those who desire him. We have to understand, look without pretence at the meaninglessness of what our senses perceive and then God can give everything true meaning in himself.
Then graffiti turns into writing, the word of God.